Opening Moves

You can’t win the game at the start of 1901.  However, some will tell you, you can lose the game.  You can’t.

Diplomacy is a game where the start is important.  Make the wrong decisions in 1901 and you’ll find the game difficult to recover.

This isn’t to do with the moves you make, usually, but with the diplomatic decisions you make.  Pick the wrong ally and you may well find yourself marginalised.  Getting your back from that is what you’ll then need to work on, while playing a solid set of moves.

However, when we think about Diplomacy’s openings, we mainly think about the moves.  There has been a lot of writing about moves.  Safe to say I won’t be bringing anything new to the table… but neither can I ignore these.


Perhaps the first person to classify Dip openings was Richard Sharp, certainly in writing.  His openings are presented in the Diplomacy Archive, under the Openings Library.  Eventually I’ll add a link to that… at present the page is down presumably because it is being moved from one server to another.

There are two main types of openings: Those that concentrate on Spring 1901 moves, and those that look at extensions of these into F01 and, occasionally, beyond.

As you’d expect the openings are also classified for each power.  For example, England’s openings are classified are:

  • The Northern Openings
  • The Southern Openings
  • The Western Opening
  • The Splits

Then there are the variations on each one:

  • Northern: The Yorkshire Opening
  • Northern: The Churchill Opening
  • Southern: The Pure Southern
  • Southern: The Edinburgh Opening

(The Splits and the Western Opening don’t have real variants.)

I should point out that some openings have different names in different places.  I myself have dropped the word ‘variant’ from their names, simply because I don’t see the need.  I have also re-named the opening I have called “The Pure Southern” because it is confusingly known as “The Yorkshire Variant”; confusing because the Yorkshire Opening is too close a name.

There is another WordPress blog on Diplomacy Openings.  Here, they are often given quite different names.  Frankly, while I enjoy looking at this blog, the names seem to have been quite randomly chosen, certainly for England.


Here, I will only rename openings when I think they need it (as above).  I will present pure 1901 openings, and I will discuss extensions; the extensions tend to have much more interesting names!

I’ll discuss the advantages and disadvantages of each one.  However, beware: No opening is the ‘right’ opening.  What might work in one game won’t work in another because whatever opening moves you choose to make as any power should depend upon the diplomacy you carried out prior to ordering your units.

I accept that in some forms of Diplomacy there may not be time to carry out diplomacy and then decide on your moves.  But I’m writing generally in most cases and certainly I’m doing so when discussing openings.  In other words, I’m writing as if you were playing a stand alone game of Diplomacy, and as if you were playing Remotely.


Many extensions rely on coordinated moves between two or more powers.  When this happens, they opening will be tagged under both powers and will be under the Opening Extensions category.


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